Penguins Notebook: Still no timetable for Staal's return

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Nearly seven weeks after Jordan Staal had surgery for a broken right hand, coach Dan Bylsma said after practice Friday at Consol Energy Center that it is not known when the big center will get clearance to practice.

An initial estimate was that he could return to the lineup in six weeks.

"The important part of his injury is that we've got to make sure it heals," Bylsma said. "With the usage of the hand, you've got to maybe see more healing than you would if it was [for example] a finger.

"He continues to show healing, and he showed more the last X-ray. He's got another one scheduled. I don't know when. He has been doing activities both on and off the ice."

Staal, one of the top two-way forwards in the NHL, has not played this season. He was set to play after recovering from a foot infection when he got hit in the hand by a puck at practice.

Other injury updates

Forward Max Talbot missed what was nearly a 90-minute practice because of what Bylmsa called "a maintenance day" for "bumps and bruises."

The Penguins, who had a day off Thursday and don't play again until Monday at home against Phoenix, will be off again today. Bylsma said Talbot is expected to practice Sunday.

Also not on the ice were top-line left winger Chris Kunitz, who has missed two games because of an unspecified problem, and forward Mike Comrie, who has missed 10 games because of an undisclosed injury.

Bylsma said it is hoped Kunitz will be improved after the rest -- "You don't want to keep going [on the ice] and [regress]," Bylsma said -- and he hopes to have an answer soon as to when Comrie might return to practice.

Alumni seats go quickly

With only 10,000 seats available for the Dec. 31 Penguins-Washington Capitals alumni game at Heinz Field because of Winter Classic preparation concerns, tickets sold out in minutes.

There will be no live telecast of the alumni game -- where the feature draw is Penguins Hall of Fame center and co-owner Mario Lemieux -- but the NHL Network plans some coverage.

Highlights will be shown later Dec. 31 during that network's live coverage of practices at Heinz Field involving the current Penguins and Capitals and on that night's news/analysis show, "On the Fly." NHL Network will air a one-hour version of the alumni game Jan. 5. No time has been announced.

This is the fourth Winter Classic, and the first time there is an event open to the public at the venue the day before the main outdoor game.

More Winter Classic events

Times for public-skating sessions at the rink that will be built next to Stage AE outside of Heinz Field are set: Dec. 24 -- 3-9 p.m.; Dec. 25 -- noon-9 p.m.; Dec. 26 -- 7-8:20 p.m.; Dec. 27 -- 3-4:20 p.m.; Dec. 28 -- 3-4:20 p.m. and 6:30-7:50 p.m.; Dec. 29 -- 3-4:20 p.m. and 6:30-7:50 p.m.; Dec. 30 -- 3-4:20 p.m. and 6:30-7:50 p.m.; Dec. 31 -- 6:30 p.m.-midnight; Jan. 1 -- 4:10-5:40 p.m. and 6-7:30 p.m.

Cost is $7 per session, and skate rental is $3.

The rink is part of the celebration of the Winter Classic.

A complete youth hockey schedule will be released next week, including six high school hockey games, numerous amateur games and an international bantam tournament featuring the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite, Washington Junior Capitals and teams from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia (Sidney Crosby's hometown) and Magnitogorsk, Russia (Evgeni Malkin's hometown).

Shelly Anderson: . First Published December 18, 2010 5:00 AM


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